Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chapter 12, Part 7 - Confucius

Tsze-kung asked about government. The Master said, "The requisites of government are that there be sufficiency of food, sufficiency of military equipment, and the confidence of the people in their ruler."

Tsze-kung said, "If it cannot be helped, and one of these must be dispensed with, which of the three should be foregone first?" "The military equipment," said the Master.

Tsze-kung again asked, "If it cannot be helped, and one of the remaining two must be dispensed with, which of them should be foregone?" The Master answered, "Part with the food. From of old, death has been the lot of an men; but if the people have no faith in their rulers, there is no standing for the state."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

This Post Has Been Deleted

Trey Smith

The post that was going to go in this space at this time has been deleted. It didn't meet my standards -- whatever those are -- and so I bade it farewell.

This happenstance does not occur very often. Since this blog's inception in 2005, I've written literally thousands of posts. During this time period, I rarely delete something I've started -- maybe as few as ten or twenty. I usually set it aside in draft form and come back to it days or weeks later.

But the post that had been scheduled to appear at this time simply didn't have the right feel. It didn't flow in the way I thought it might. It was too disjointed and uneven. I tried to smooth it out, but it was a no-go.

The upshot is that, instead of reading the post that I had intended to go right here, you are reading a post that tells you that it isn't here after all.

If you would like to read the post that isn't here, you'll need to search for it in the ether. If you find it, please leave a comment here and tell me what you think of it.

Afternoon Matinee: War Made Easy, Part 5 of 8

Subjective Soliloquies II

Scott Bradley

According to Zhuangzi, as I understand him in any case, all attempts to pronounce upon the nature of reality and how best to respond to it are subjective soliloquies. He would not, therefore, disagree with Guo's criticism of his ideas as being such. But Guo adds a pejorative modifier; they are merely subjective soliloquies; and this suggests that there can be something else, an objectively true understanding of reality (his own, for example). Here they part ways.

This 'merely' is defined as a failure to adequately deal with "the daily requirements of life". He chose to dwell in "a realm of mystical indifferentiation" and "a pavilion of unintelligibility". He "made dialogues which were really arguing with himself and have nothing to do with life."

So what? Let us assume Zhuangzi had his head in the clouds and contributed nothing to the politics of the Warring States in which he found himself. What is the ground for our criticism of him? We are required to contribute. Required by whom? Required by what moral principle? Who brings this judgment, and by what authority?

I am loath to defend the practical dimensions of self-realization; it concedes too much. I’ll end this post with Fung Yu-lan’s defense of his own philosophy in this regard, but for the moment I will act defiant. Zhuangzi has been called an anarchist. As an individual human being, he proclaimed the freedom of the individual. His being an individual was his authority. He answered to no one. He pursued his way without regard to the opinion of others. And whether his way failed to transform the world or no, whether it met the expectations of others or no, he pursued his path as he pleased. He was obliged to no one. No one had a ‘moral’ hold on him. He understood himself to be free to think, do, and be as he wished. That this doing and being was expressed in acceptance of and a ‘going along with’ all he encountered, speaks for itself and need not be sullied by being offered as ‘proof’ for the merit of his way.

Fung affirmed the uselessness of philosophy and the epitaph that it is an “empty branch of knowledge”. And yet: “If philosophy can enable men to become sages, then this is the usefulness of philosophy’s uselessness. And should this coming to be a sage be the reaching to the height of what it means to be a man, this is the usefulness of philosophy’s uselessness. This kind of uselessness might be called the highest form of usefulness.” (The Spirit of Chinese Philosophy)

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

Line by Line - Verse 57, Line 18

I will manifest no ambition, and the people will of themselves attain to the primitive simplicity.'
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

I have no desires and people return to the good and simple life.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

I have no desires, and the people simplify themselves
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

I want for nothing,
and they lead simple lives."

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from Beatrice.com, 2004 ~
Time and time again, throughout the classic writings of the Taoist sages, the biggest stumbling block to enlightenment is identified as desire. It is desire that causes each of us to move against the flow of life. It is desire that leads to violence and conflict. It is desire that generates stress, both internally and externally.

We are prisoners to our desires and it is these desires that makes our lives a struggle. Cast them away and life becomes heaven or nirvana on earth.

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

Huainanzi - Entry 50

Trey Smith

[There are ways to evaluate people.] If they are covetous, observe what they will not take.
~ a passage from
The Book of Leadership and Strategy by Thomas Cleary ~
In many parts of the country, we find big corporations gobbling up the land. Areas that appear to be barren and of no use are scooped up for pennies on the dollar and we later learn that these big companies knew something -- inside information -- that wasn't readily available to the public. What initially looked like a wasteful purchase turns out to be a steal!

Every now and then a government entity will try basically to give away a property to a big company and, for reasons seemingly unknown, the company turns it down. When this happens, it is rampantly apparent that the big wigs KNOW something about the property that the rest of us don't -- it's heavily polluted or something of this nature.

When a company or individual always is grabbing things and they turn a blind eye to something they would normally grab, you should know that they possess inside knowledge.

To read the introduction to this ongoing series, go here.

Chapter 12, Part 6 - Confucius

Tsze-chang asked what constituted intelligence. The Master said, "He with whom neither slander that gradually soaks into the mind, nor statements that startle like a wound in the flesh, are successful may be called intelligent indeed. Yea, he with whom neither soaking slander, nor startling statements, are successful, may be called farseeing."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Daily Tao - Oh Life?

Some are lost in life. Some seek spiritual solace.

Some admirable people just live!

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

Subjective Soliloquies I

Scott Bradley

I return to Guo Xiang's criticisms of Zhuangzi to further consider their merit Previously, I considered them on the basis of their being straw men, misrepresentations for the sake of repudiation, and on the basis of their being partisan, and thus a failure to have understood and applied Zhuangzi's central idea, namely the relative equality of all ideas. Here I would like to simply consider them on their individual merits.

Speaking of the Zhuangzi, Guo writes: "These did not meet the requirements of daily life, his writings being merely subjective soliloquies." Were they subjective soliloquies? Do subjective soliloquies fail to meet the requirements of daily life? I think that the answer to the first question is a resounding yes. The answer to the second is a resounding no.

One benefit of reading lots of philosophy is that one is exposed to an endless flow of subjective soliloquies. In the end, one begins to realize that that's about all that these pronouncements on the nature of reality amount to. One can come to understand that his or her own ruminations are likewise subjective. Most philosophers do not subscribe to this point of view, of course. They understand that the previous ideas were subjective soliloquies, but not their own. Theirs is an objective understanding, the truth of things.

Zhuangzi suggested his own idea which is that all ideas, including his own, are subjective soliloquies and that this does not matter, because their value is not in their objective rightness or wrongness, but in their being an expression of the human, which in turn is an expression of Tao. If his philosophy was critical of others, it was because of their assumed objective fixity and consequent inability to include all the others. And he saw inclusion as a most essential attribute of Tao and thus of Tao-ish-ness.

I like Zhuangzi's soliloquies and echo them. I would also hope that my echo is an expression of my own unique subjectivity.

Every succeeding philosopher reads his predecessors, finds something lacking and adds his own ideas. As in the previously mentioned meadow, species flourish and founder, flourish and founder. The lupines and poppies were right in their time, the mosses and fungi in theirs. Everything really is okay.

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tao Bible - Lamentations 3:2

He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light.
~ King James version ~

Therefore the sage takes care of all men
And abandons no one.
He takes care of all things
And abandons nothing.

This is called "following the light."
~ from Verse 27 of the Tao Te Ching ~
Whether God leads us toward or away from the light, it is dependent on his mood. When he is feeling happy and merciful, he leads us toward it, but when he's pissed off, he leads us away from it. God sure is one emotional dude.

Tao, which is devoid of emotion and desire, always leaves the light on for us. It is our choice alone whether we will walk toward it or away from it.

If you're interested in reading more from this experimental series, go to the Tao Bible Index page.

Chapter 12, Part 5 - Confucius

Sze-ma Niu, full of anxiety, said, "Other men all have their brothers, I only have not."

Tsze-hsia said to him, "There is the following saying which I have heard 'Death and life have their determined appointment; riches and honors depend upon Heaven.'

"Let the superior man never fail reverentially to order his own conduct, and let him be respectful to others and observant of propriety: then all within the four seas will be his brothers. What has the superior man to do with being distressed because he has no brothers?"
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Goose, Gander and Murder

Trey Smith

But this is one of the towering, unanswerable hypocrisies of Democratic Party politics. The very same faction that pretended for years to be so distraught by Bush’s mere eavesdropping on and detention of accused Terrorists without due process is now perfectly content to have their own President kill accused Terrorists without due process, even when those targeted are their fellow citizens: obviously a far more Draconian and permanent abuse than eavesdropping or detention (identically, the very same faction that objected to Bush’s radical whole-world-is-a-Battlefield theory now must embrace exactly that theory to justify how someone riding in a car, or sitting at home, or sleeping in his bed, in a country where no war is declared, is “on a battlefield” at the time the CIA ends his life).
~ from Leon Panetta’s Explicitly Authoritarian Decree by Glenn Greenwald ~
In posts throughout the years, I often have referenced the English idiom, "What's good for the goose is (should be) good for the gander." Of course, the meaning of this idiom seems lost on those who participate in the realm of politics, particularly in the US!

One of the themes of Republicans for the last two decades or so has been all bout cutting the national deficit. They have harped on this one notion like it's the ONLY national issue that matters. It is such a vitally important issue that they have sought to batter the Obama administration with it and, before that, they wielded it like a giant club against the Clinton administration.

However, between these two Democratic presidencies, the nation was led by a Republican, one George W. Bush. During his eight year reign, the all important issue of reducing the national deficit all but disappeared from Republican lips. It no longer was THAT important anymore. It's a good thing for the GOP that it evaporated since Bush ran up staggering deficits!

But it's simply not Republicans who engage in this silly game. As Greenwald points out, Democrats play it just as deftly too and Barack Obama has turned out to be one of the worst offenders. On issue after issue, what he said he opposed when a Republican sat in the White House, he now embraces as he sits in the White House.

I think this offers one of the chief reasons why so many Americans are turned off by politics. With rare exceptions -- Ron Paul being one -- few politicians seem to have ANY ironclad principles anymore. What they stand for -- or what they SAY they stand for -- is calculated solely on which party holds the balance of power.

If the opposition party says all grandmothers should be thrown off of moving trains, it is morally wrong...until our party comes into power and then not only will we happily throw grandmothers off of moving trains, we'll giddily throw off grandfathers too!

Afternoon Matinee: War Made Easy, Part 4 of 8

A Box of Egos: Are They All the Same?

Scott Bradley

Though media interest has relegated the further study of the box of disembodied egos to the back pages of most newspapers and out of the daily news cycle altogether, still this reporter continues to follow their study through various scientific journals, thinking this audience will continue to have a keen interest in developments.

One exciting line of inquiry being pursued is the question of whether all these egos are essentially the same or are there some which have a greater expression of 'egocity' than others. "Although we have been unable to determine to everyone's satisfaction whether these egos are inherently 'evil', or even 'real' for that matter, they do in fact possess observable attributes which we are now hopeful of measuring," said one scientist earlier this month. "We are especially interested to know if there are various degrees of 'egocity' among them or if all egos are fundamentally the same," he added.

The first challenge was to determine what attributes could be successfully measured. "The two most outstanding attributes of these egos are their 'repulsivity' — their automatic exclusion of every other ego — and their 'absorptivity' — their ability to use identification with other egos as a means of further confirming their exclusivity," explained the project leader.

The next great challenge was to figure out how to empirically measure these attributes, and for this a team from MIT was brought in. "It's all well and good to come up with theories," said the team leader, "but it takes nuts-and-bolts engineering to prove them. That's where we come in. And I think I can confidently say that we have built two such devices."

Preliminary results seem to indicate that all egos equally participate in these qualities, though they express them in different ways. "Egos are egos," wrote one psychologist, "and thus we see how ludicrous it is for one ego to criticize another or to suggest that one ego is 'worse' or 'better' than another."

Concerning the apparently contradictory ability of egos to both exclude and yet make use of each other, one biologist has expressed wonder: "Nowhere else in Nature do we see an organism which is both simultaneously parasitic and symbiotic," he writes. "These egos exist for themselves alone and by a mechanism whereby they negate every other ego, and yet they are somehow able to amass in such a way as to further confirm their mutual negation. Their parasitic character is re-enforced symbiotically. They are truly a wonder of Nature."

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

Line by Line - Verse 57, Line 17

I will take no trouble about it, and the people will of themselves become rich;
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

I do nothing and people become rich.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

I do not interfere, and the people enrich themselves
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

I stay out of the way,
and they prosper.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from Beatrice.com, 2004 ~
None of us can truly enlighten anyone else -- we have enough trouble enlightening ourselves! Enlightenment, sagacity and wisdom are not characteristics which can be bestowed by one to another. We arrive at these places via our experiences in our lives in the world. And we find each in our own time at our own pace.

When I try to tell you the best methods for achieving enlightenment, I am interfering in your own process. If I stand aside, then you can reach it of your own accord.

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Trey Smith

From what I gather, one of the chief differences between Schizophrenia and Schizotypal Personality Disorder (SPD) has to do with a differentiation in the experience of hallucinations. The schizophrenic individual sees or hears things that aren't real and, no matter what evidence is presented to the contrary, they persist in holding onto the belief that the hallucination is, in fact, part of everyday reality.

For people like me with SPD, we often are able to understand that our hallucinations are not real and that no one else can see or hear them. While I suppose there is a definite benefit from being able to sort out the real from the unreal, this benefit often is lost on me, particularly during an hallucinogenic episode.

Two or three evenings ago (I don't remember which it was) I decided to drive down to the local mini mart to visit my friend, Paul. Along the way, at different points in the approximately 4 minute trip, I saw an individual standing on the side of the road. Each time I "saw" the individual it was the same one I had seen several blocks earlier.

That's not possible. The person I saw at the bottom of my hill could not be the same person I saw one block from the mini mart. No human I know of could move that fast. Of course, no one was standing next to the road at the bottom of my hill. The person was there one moment and then not there in the blink of an eye.

In other words, the individual I kept seeing along my route wasn't real. It was a repeated hallucination. When I was a younger man, these "sightings" used to trouble me greatly. What's wrong with me?, I'd ask myself. Am I going mad?

Having lived with this condition the entirety of my adult life (and much of my late childhood too), I don't get all freaked out like I used to. I rather methodically try to ascertain if what I see before me is real or not and, if I'm satisfied it's the latter, I just shake my head and keep moving.

What good does it do to get all freaked out? It is what it is and, like everything else in life, I simply have to accept it and deal with it as best I can.

Chapter 12, Part 4 - Confucius

Sze-ma Niu asked about the superior man. The Master said, "The superior man has neither anxiety nor fear."

"Being without anxiety or fear!" said Nui; "does this constitute what we call the superior man?"

The Master said, "When internal examination discovers nothing wrong, what is there to be anxious about, what is there to fear?"
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Daily Tao - Conflict

It is only an argument if you take part.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

Daily Requirements

Scott Bradley

In previous posts we began to consider how the so-called Neo-Taoists took Zhuangzi and Laozi to task for failing to reach the level of the true Sage, Confucius. They did not achieve oneness with non-being (according to Wang Pi) as had the Sage, and thus endlessly spoke of it. Guo Xiang's peeve, on the other hand, was that they failed to incorporate their "perfect understanding" into the "world transformation". Guo wrote: "Chuang Chou may be said to have had knowledge of the fundamentals. . . . These did not meet the requirements of daily life, his writings being merely subjective soliloquies. If a statement cannot meet the requirements of daily life, it follows that although the statement might be right, it is nevertheless useless. . . It may be lofty, but it is not practical."

This criticism is amazingly like that of Huizi, as related in the Zhuangzi, to which Zhuangzi replies that Hui has failed to understand the usefulness of the useless. Its practicality resides in its being ‘impractical’. The world is also transformed by forces not immediately discernable.

But I would like to address this criticism from another point of view which I will call the view from two steps removed. On the one hand, we observe that Guo requires that Zhuangzi be wrong. This alone tells us a great deal. It is an exercise in the kind of partisanship which Zhuangzi eschewed. His message was that of an inclusiveness which the mind cannot easily imagine, for this is not how the mind typically functions. The mind requires thesis and antithesis, right and wrong.

This kind of argumentation also requires the construction of straw men. A straw man is something we construct in order to tear it down. It is a caricature of that which we wish to oppose (and we require something to oppose) because the thing which we wish to oppose, because of the complexity of all things, cannot be so easily torn down. Democrats are socialists. Republicans are pro-war. Taoists are escapists and quietists. Confucians are moralists. Take your pick. Choose a name. To be this kind of someone requires not being someone else.

We are often told what Taoists believe and how they fail of some test or another, but frankly, I rarely see any resemblance between these statements and the literature of Taoism itself or the way in which I personally seek to live it. They are straw men.

Zhuangzi was sitting on the bank of a river, fishing (to fulfill a ‘daily requirement’) and minding his own business, when a court official arrived and offered him high office. Zhuangzi declined. Why? Because he preferred sitting on the bank and fishing to being yoked by the necessary compromises of office. We need not derive universal principles from his choice. Let’s call Guo a Taoist and affirm him in his presumed political involvement. In any event, Taoists did eventually enter politics, gain power and predictably begin eliminating their 'opposition', just as had the Confucians before them — too bad Guo did not live to see it.

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tao Bible - Lamentations 2:17

The LORD hath done that which he had devised; he hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old: he hath thrown down, and hath not pitied: and he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee, he hath set up the horn of thine adversaries.
~ King James version ~

Tao has no plan.
~ possible Taoist alternative ~
In the eyes of Christians, God is like a public administrator. He devises plans and sees to it that they are carried through. Whatever happens to us throughout our lives, it is part of God's master syllabus.

Tao, on the other hand, is NOT a public administration. Tao plans nothing for Tao is the plan and process itself. So, who is responsible for drawing up the blueprint?

Who says there is a blueprint!?!

If you're interested in reading more from this experimental series, go to the Tao Bible Index page.

Chapter 12, Part 3 - Confucius

Sze-ma Niu asked about perfect virtue.

The Master said, "The man of perfect virtue is cautious and slow in his speech."

"Cautious and slow in his speech!" said Niu; "is this what is meant by perfect virtue?"

The Master said, "When a man feels the difficulty of doing, can he be other than cautious and slow in speaking?"
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Bad Apples

Trey Smith

From time to time, there are reports in the media about police officers who have been charged with a crime. When this occurs, the police chief or some other high ranking official comes before the media and refers to the officer as a "bad apple." We are told that we shouldn't judge the entire police force based on the questionable actions of one solitary individual. In most cases, this is a fair point.

So, why is it that the police themselves seem unwilling to utilize this rationale when it comes to protesters? Joshua Holland reports at Alternet that, faced with a handful of violent protesters in a sea of nearly 1,000 PEACEFUL protesters in Oakland yesterday, the Oakland PD employed violent tactics on the entire group!! There are reports of tear gas, flash grenades and bean bags being shot indiscriminately at the protesters.

There is no question that a few people in this large crowd threw objects at the police. Many of the peaceful protesters confronted the few less-than-peaceful ones and encouraged them to desist. But the police made no such efforts. Once a few objects were hurled, they used these acts as a convenient excuse to manhandle anyone they could get their hands on!

This type of strategy is being employed by police departments across the nation.

Afternoon Matinee: War Made Easy, Part 3 of 8

Hook, Line and Tinker

Trey Smith

I am certainly not a film snob. Before watching a theatrical release, I rarely read the reviews from the "experts." Why? Because some of my favorite movies aren't rated that highly. I really don't care about a film's popularity with the masses. What I care about is -- Does the film resonate with me?

Yesterday afternoon I was flipping through the channels and came upon a movie I've watched many times before and will, undoubtedly, watch many times again. It is an updated version of the classic tale of Peter Pan -- Hook starring Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts. Here is the plot summary from the Internet Movie Database:
Peter Pan (Williams) has grown up to be a cut-throat merger and acquisitions lawyer, and is married to Wendy's granddaughter. Captain Hook (Hoffman) kidnaps his children, and Peter returns to Never Land with Tinkerbell (Roberts). With the help of her and the Lost Boys, he must remember how to be Peter Pan again in order to save his children by battling with Captain Hook once again.
As a child of the 60s, I grew up with the Disney version (and the Mary Martin version too) of Peter Pan. I had the vinyl record as well as the Disney storybook. I had a Peter Pan lunchbox and I ate Peter Pan peanut butter (though I eventually settled on Jif).

As I think you can see, I identified with Peter Pan. In many ways, I thought of myself in terms of Peter. He didn't like the world around him, so he flew away to Never Land. As an odd and lonely child with then-undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome, I didn't like the world around me, so I flew away in my imagination. Peter had the Lost Boys and I had my own sort of Fantasy Boys.

Like the Peter (Banning) character in the movie, I eventually grew up. While the grownup Peter had lost the carefree and creative spark of his youth, the same is not true of me. People who know me well have suggested that I have retained a certain childlike wonderment through the years. I don't disagree with the assessment. I often feel like a kid who simply grew taller and heavier!!

A critical part in the film concerns Peter's efforts to come to terms with his inner younger self. Tinkerbell, a fairy, pulls out all the stops trying to convince Peter Banning that he is, in fact, the grown up Peter Pan. Once he comes to this realization, it is not long before he is able to get in touch in an intimate way with the child within him.

It is at this juncture of the movie in which I always get a sinking feeling. Putting myself into Peter's tights, I realize that he has gone a step further than I appear able to go. When I look into MY past -- even as short as a few days ago -- it's as if I'm looking at pictures on microfiche and reading the captions that describe each scene! I can glean where I've been or what I've done in a detached sense, but, once a moment has come and gone, most often the emotion of that moment disappears into the ether.

So, I vicariously cheer on Peter as he regains the ability to fly, defeats Captain Hook, once and for all, and rescues his children. I understand that if I indeed was Peter Pan, none of those things would have occurred. Captain Hook would still be prowling around and my children would remain in his evil clutches.

While I see quite a few similarities between the fictitious storybook (or movie) Peter Pan and the fictitious variant of me as one and the same, the storybook version is able to complete a journey that I can only travel about halfway.

Line by Line - Verse 57, Line 16

I will be fond of keeping still, and the people will of themselves become correct.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

I enjoy peace and people become honest.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

I prefer quiet, and the people right themselves
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

I keep silent,
and they do the right thing
on their own.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from Beatrice.com, 2004 ~
If each of us held our peace, there would be no war or aggression. Wars (or arguments, for that matter) originate with language. You say this and I counter with that. You don't like what I think and I don't like what you say. Before we know it, our words have morphed into a battle of wits and, in some instances, physical battle.

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.



As inferred by Chuang Tzu when he pointed someone to the futility of watering the ground when it is raining, it is silly to do a task when it is already being well taken care of. A designer of a wind turbine would not stand by and blow to assist the wind, a torch in the daytime won't illuminate much, you don't spin the pedals of your bike so fast that it tires you when already rolling down a steep hill or row your boat hard when going with the stream.

Effort is required to go against what is already happening, birds don't descend through thermals, vines don't reach out alone.

So Chuang Tzu asks anyone with eyes on leadership, or even one who questions a leader and offers an alternative, to ask themselves. If the bird does not go against the wind, nor the fish against the flow, why when Tao is so much greater than wind or oceans, does man not feel hilarity the moment leadership comes to mind?


Why indeed do we seek to explain Tao when within us and without us it explains itself.

You can check out Ta-Wan's other musings here.

Chapter 12, Part 2 - Confucius

Chung-kung asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, "It is, when you go abroad, to behave to every one as if you were receiving a great guest; to employ the people as if you were assisting at a great sacrifice; not to do to others as you would not wish done to yourself; to have no murmuring against you in the country, and none in the family."

Chung-kung said, "Though I am deficient in intelligence and vigor, I will make it my business to practice this lesson."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Daily Tao - Seeking Your Tail

Words cause confusion.

In times of confusion, people read the big book.

Truth is so simple, they refuse it and seek the complex.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

Speaking of Liberation

Scott Bradley

In the previous post I spoke of 'our liberation' and while speaking I heard the echo, which though not of my words, was certainly of my thoughts in the words of another. These words are: There is no one to liberate.

We are liberated when we realize that there is no one to liberate. Wait a minute, that's not quite right. We cannot be liberated because there is no one to liberate. That's better. And if we could only realize this, we would be liberated. Oops!

A previous post was entitled "On This Side of the Moon", and this post is about that same theme. I might have called it "On This Side of the River". It is about the unliberated lives that I and you (most likely) live. It is not about a life that I or you 'should' be living.

Do I believe there really is no me? Yes, I do. Meanwhile, I live. And though I consider and attempt to practice ways of living beyond 'me', I do so as me.

If my life is a dream, I can only live it as such. If I awaken to the dreaming, I live as one who knows he is dreaming. What's wrong with dreaming, exactly? Whatever it may be, knowing that I am dreaming would not make it any less so. But we like to know. Or, at least, we like to believe that we know. Still, it does seem there is more freedom to do and be, knowing that I am dreaming. Sometimes the best time of a dream is when you awaken enough to know you are dreaming and can move the story line as you wish. Instead of driving off the cliff, you jump out just in time. That’s a better dream. So, I have my dream dream of liberation.

I do not deny that there is no one to be liberated, only the ‘I’ that I dream is that it dreams and part of that dream is that it needs to be liberated. Living as I do on this side of the river, I attempt to allow that far other shore to inform and transform my life in its dreaming. And though I build dream rafts that I dream may carry me across, my life is now this dreaming.

Is all this just word-play, or have I actually said something? In either case, I have not altogether succeeded in saying what I wish to say. Perhaps I would have done better to simply echo Zhuangzi: Walk Two Roads. Let's not negate the life that we are because we know we are not. Let's nurture the children, though we know they shall die.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tao Bible - Lamentations 2:4

He hath bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire.
~ King James version ~

The Tao of heaven is like the bending of a bow.
The high is lowered, and the low is raised.
If the string is too long, it is shortened;
If there is not enough, it is made longer.
The Tao of heaven is to take from those who have too much and give to those who do not have enough.
~ from Verse 77 of the Tao Te Ching ~
Both passages use a bow to make a point. In the biblical version, the bow is used as a weapon to kill and injure. It could be said that it utilizes the bow as a negative connotation.

In the TTC, the bow is neither positive nor negative. It is used to describe the intermingling forces of yin and yang.

If you're interested in reading more from this experimental series, go to the Tao Bible Index page.

Chapter 12, Part 1 - Confucius

Yen Yuan asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, "To subdue one's self and return to propriety, is perfect virtue. If a man can for one day subdue himself and return to propriety, an under heaven will ascribe perfect virtue to him. Is the practice of perfect virtue from a man himself, or is it from others?"

Yen Yuan said, "I beg to ask the steps of that process." The Master replied, "Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety." Yen Yuan then said, "Though I am deficient in intelligence and vigor, I will make it my business to practice this lesson."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Huainanzi - Entry 49

Trey Smith

[There are ways to evaluate people.] If they are of low status, observe what they refuse to do.
~ a passage from
The Book of Leadership and Strategy by Thomas Cleary ~
For me, this has to do with self-respect. No matter the state of our lives, there are some actions we simply will refuse to undertake. For example, some people have the integrity not to cheat others, even if standing for this principle means that they themselves will suffer.

Personally, I think it is just as informative to see what the person of high status will refuse to do. Often, it has little to do with principle and everything to do with laziness! Why do something yourself if you can get (or force) someone else to do it for you!

To read the introduction to this ongoing series, go here.

Afternoon Matinee: War Made Easy, Part 2 of 8

Speaking of Insufficiency II

Scott Bradley

Those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know.
These must surely be some of the most liberating words in the Taoist canon — if we are willing to turn them on their head.

Unfortunately, we generally take them as a rebuke, a pronouncement of our failure to 'know'. Or, more likely, we take them as a rebuke of others who speak, our own speaking being perceived as under the special dispensation which accrues to those who know that one should not speak.

I speak. I speak because I do not know. Blah, blah, blah. What fun! Speak! Enjoy being human! Just don't believe that you speak of what you know.

I would that I could speak better than I do, for then I could better speak to myself and to you about how liberating it is to speak. Instead of considering Laozi's speaking as a rebuke to our own, what if we took it as a carte blanche to speak? What if, instead of believing we are supposed to 'know' something, we realized there is nothing to know, or at least nothing we can know, or at least nothing we do know? Gone would be this ridiculous addiction to Truth and Arriving. All that would remain would be to be human, to be insufficient. A daunting task, no doubt, but the only one set before us.

Instead of believing that our liberation lies in knowing something, achieving something, arriving somewhere, what if we believed it lies in being and accepting what we already are just at this moment? Then our 'liberation' would consist in realizing and affirming our insufficiency, not in trying to obliterate it. Take your pick. Believe what you wish. I will try and not rebuke you for speaking your mind.

Who knows? Let her speak up now, or forever hold her peace.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

Line by Line - Verse 57, Lines 14-15

Therefore a sage has said, 'I will do nothing (of purpose), and the people will be transformed of themselves;
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

Therefore the sage says:
I take no action and people are reformed.

~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Therefore the sage says:
I take unattached action, and the people transform themselves

~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

A wise leader says to himself:
"I do nothing,
and people transform themselves.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from Beatrice.com, 2004 ~
When I look at my own experiences in life, it is good to ask whether I learn better when someone simply tells me what to do or when the teacher models the lesson to be taught. I don't know about any of you, but I far better come to a deeper understanding via the latter methodology. It allows me to experience for myself the point another is trying to get across.

Words tend to mean different things to different people. They often represent hurdles or obstacles to real understanding. The wordless sharing of experience, however, can identify commonality amongst people who may speak different languages and come from far flung locales the world over.

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

The most suitable philosophy...


...for any person, is the one that fits them best.

This is circular, yet completely true.

What has people searching for alternatives or feeling disconnected with their religion or philosophy is that it is not theirs. This disconnection can lead them, strangely, to fight for and stand strongly for, their position. It can lead some to feel incomplete or wrong as they do not feel their religion or philosophy answers life for them like it seems to for others.

If two people sit in separate homes and one has views that resonate perfectly with yours and the other believes that purple space donkeys made the word, both may die completely happily, if they were comfortable with their views. If two people held views that they were not comfortable with, be those views just like yours or greatly differing, they may leave this life sadly.

Organized and fixed views, then, are not great things. The world flows and changes. We must be ever free to adapt. Fixed views are like a mooring for a boat. What if the tide rises or drops more than your rope will allow for?

Float freely.

You can check out Ta-Wan's other musings here.

Chapter 11, Part 25B - Confucius

Last of all, the Master asked Tsang Hsi, "Tien, what are your wishes?" Tien, pausing as he was playing on his lute, while it was yet twanging, laid the instrument aside, and "My wishes," he said, "are different from the cherished purposes of these three gentlemen."

"What harm is there in that?" said the Master; "do you also, as well as they, speak out your wishes."

Tien then said, "In this, the last month of spring, with the dress of the season all complete, along with five or six young men who have assumed the cap, and six or seven boys, I would wash in the I, enjoy the breeze among the rain altars, and return home singing." The Master heaved a sigh and said, "I give my approval to Tien."

The three others having gone out, Tsang Hsi remained behind, and said, "What do you think of the words of these three friends?" The Master replied, "They simply told each one his wishes."

Hsi pursued, "Master, why did you smile at Yu?"

He was answered, "The management of a state demands the rules of propriety. His words were not humble; therefore I smiled at him."

Hsi again said, "But was it not a state which Ch'iu proposed for himself?" The reply was, "Yes; did you ever see a territory of sixty or seventy li or one of fifty or sixty, which was not a state?"

Once more, Hsi inquired, "And was it not a state which Ch'ih proposed for himself?" The Master again replied, "Yes; who but princes have to do with ancestral temples, and with audiences but the sovereign? If Ch'ih were to be a small assistant in these services, who could be a great one?"
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Daily Tao - Mad Loops

The big mouth causes fear and panic.

In times of fear and panic, people huddle around a leader with a big mouth.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

Speaking of Insufficiency I

Scott Bradley

I have just begun Fung Yu-lan's The Spirit of Chinese Philosophy and have started with the chapter on one of my favorite topics, the so-called Neo-Taoists of the Third and Fourth Centuries. This was actually a rather disparate group of thinkers ranging from the free-spirited Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove to the more heady and verbose commentators like Wang Pi (226-249) and Guo Xiang (252-312), though Fung chooses to only discuss the latter two.

What makes Fung's work particularly interesting is that, as a working philosopher himself, he brings a definite bias to his studies and thus gives things an interestingly different spin. This is the case here where he clearly sides with Wang and Guo in their negative critiques of the "Taoism" of Lao Tzu and Zhuangzi.

To understand this critique one need only realize that, despite the designation Neo-Taoists, Wang and Guo were dyed-in-the-wool Confucians on a project of adopting and adapting Taoist thought to their own synthetizing purposes.

In this regard, it is related that when Wang Pi, the great advocate of the primacy of non-being, was asked why it was that Lao Tzu and Chuang Chou (Zhuangzi) spoke much of non-being, while Confucius did not, he replied: "The Sage [Confucius] identified himself with non-being and realized it could not be made the subject of instruction, with the result that he felt bound to deal with being. Lao Tzu and Chuang Chou were not yet outside the sphere of being, with the result that they constantly spoke of their own insufficiency." In other words, they saw it, but didn't get it, and therefore always talked about.

This argument, though in many ways specious, does nonetheless provide an interesting perspective on why we talk about the things we do. We speak out of our "own insufficiency". And this immediately brings to mind the pivotal pronouncement of both Lao Tzu and Zhuangzi that "those who know, do not speak".

One commentating wag took Lao Tzu to task for saying this and then proceeding to write a thesis on the subject. It might be more helpful, however, to realize that Lao Tzu knew he was speaking out of his own insufficiency. How do we purge from our minds this idea of a Truth to which we must arrive? Why do we insist that there are those who "know"? Those who "point" might not necessarily have arrived at that to which they point. Perhaps the lesson in the pointing is that we can also see something of our insufficiency and then learn to point.

Is it just more hot air to say that the point is in the journey, not the arrival? Let us hope not, because there is infinitely more pointing than arriving being done and it is doubtful that any of us will not go to our graves with our finger directed at the heavens, pointing to our own insufficiency.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

In the forest


I'm in the forest and I'm surrounded by life, sitting on it, in it and being it also. The best at being alive though are the unseen lifeforms, the yet to be discovered, better still those which will never be discovered, what a perfect example they offer.

You can check out Ta-Wan's other musings here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tao Bible - Lamentations 1:5

Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.
~ King James version ~

Tao is not the cause of affliction.
~ possible Taoist alternative ~
I could have chosen numerous biblical citations to make this point, so this one will serve the purpose as well as any other. For the Christian, God doles out punishment based on his judgment as to our word, conduct and deed. In this sense, God is the judge, jury and executioner.

Tao, on the other hand, is the framework of existence, being and non-being. Tao is not a judge. Tao is not a jury. Tao is not an executioner.

If we find that we are afflicted, it is our own doing.

If you're interested in reading more from this experimental series, go to the Tao Bible Index page.

Chapter 11, Part 25A - Confucius

Tsze-lu, Tsang Hsi, Zan Yu, and Kunghsi Hwa were sitting by the Master.

He said to them, "Though I am a day or so older than you, do not think of that.

"From day to day you are saying, 'We are not known.' If some ruler were to know you, what would you like to do?"

Tsze-lu hastily and lightly replied, "Suppose the case of a state of ten thousand chariots; let it be straitened between other large cities; let it be suffering from invading armies; and to this let there be added a famine in corn and in all vegetables:-if I were intrusted with the government of it, in three years' time I could make the people to be bold, and to recognize the rules of righteous conduct." The Master smiled at him.

Turning to Yen Yu, he said, "Ch'iu, what are your wishes?" Ch'iu replied, "Suppose a state of sixty or seventy li square, or one of fifty or sixty, and let me have the government of it;-in three years' time, I could make plenty to abound among the people. As to teaching them the principles of propriety, and music, I must wait for the rise of a superior man to do that."

"What are your wishes, Ch'ih," said the Master next to Kung-hsi Hwa. Ch'ih replied, "I do not say that my ability extends to these things, but I should wish to learn them. At the services of the ancestral temple, and at the audiences of the princes with the sovereign, I should like, dressed in the dark square-made robe and the black linen cap, to act as a small assistant."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Assertiveness and Receptivity III

Scott Bradley

Traditionally, Yin and Yang are complimentary principles, neither of which is to be affirmed more than the other. Together, through their give and take, all things have their being. If the Yang is waxing, the Yin is waning; but the waxing leads to waning and the waning to waxing. We cannot have the one without the other.

Yang and Yin are also representative of life and death, existence and non-existence. In the Taoist context, this does not assign a negative connotation to Yin, as representative of death. Death and life are a single thread and the one is but the flipside of the other. Life and death alternate like night and day. On the contrary, Taoism sees the discovery of death (non-existence) as an integral part of life as essential to balanced living.

But again we see that the human norm is the denial of Yin in the denial of death. Yang dominates. We typically proclaim life as the negation of death and death as the negation of life. We sunder their essential unity. And we fear to integrate our empty core (non-existence) with our assertive selves.

For this reason, Taoism stresses the Yin, not with a view to its dominance, but in the interests of balanced and harmonious living.

This is illustrated in negative relief by the development of the cults of immortality which grew out of philosophical Taoism. These were, in effect, the complete negation of that of which they claimed to be the truest expression. Death became the enemy. Immortality became the goal. Yin, representative of death, must be opposed and overthrown. Yang, life, must become pure, unadulterated and concentrated in one's being. Max Kaltenmark (Lao Tzu and Taoism) writes:
In ancient and classical theory, they [Yin and Yang] were held to collaborate; but this collaboration implies the alternation of life and death. The desire for eternal life naturally leads, therefore, to a desire for the victory of Yang over Yin.
This should not surprise us given our own personal experience of the dominance of Yang and our desire to prolong life...forever. Yet if we in any way subscribe to the essential intended meaning of Yin and Yang, and the Taoist appreciation of the equality of life and death, then it is to Yin we must look as the way to restore balance.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

Afternoon Matinee: War Made Easy, Part 1 of 8

Assertiveness and Receptivity II

Scott Bradley

Let us understand Yin and Yang as metaphorical constructs which have no reality whatsoever; they are concepts by which the mind attempts to understand the nature of its experience.

I have suggested that ego is essentially Yang and that its remedy in Yin. And I have thus found myself in the uncomfortable position of apparently advocating only this one-sided approach to life.

Ego may be Yang, but we must also remember that human life is a great deal more than ego. To begin with, we understand that ego is no thing at all; it is a mental construct without true existence. It is something we have, with the emergence of self-consciousness, added on to life. And life? What is life? I cannot venture to say; only I would say that it is a ground infinitely more fundamental than ego, and the only ground in which we can pretend to proceed.

Life arises. Or is it 'arisen'? Is it Yang? Or is it Yin? It is both. And because it is both, it is neither. Unity is not the union of Yin and Yang, but the absence of any and every distinction. And it is this Unity, or at least an approximation thereof, which is the goal of the remedial use of Yin in response to the ego-assertive dominance of Yang.

The Taoist vision, as I understand it, is for us to be the life we are. It is to let life live through us. This is the ground-source of what is meant by 'going with the flow'. This attitude has its expression in the world, but the flow arises here where "I" step aside and let life flow where and as it will. And this stepping aside is Yin, surrender into the gift of life. It is Yin as remedy for Yang in the service of life which is both and neither.

Life is assertive; it lives. Life is receptive; it is given. Life as expressed through the 'genuinely human', the ideal of the sage living in harmony with life, is both Yin and Yang, assertive and receptive, yet it knows nothing of either. It is an expression of Unity.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

Line by Line - Verse 57, Lines 12-13

the more display there is of legislation, the more thieves and robbers there are.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

The more rules and regulations,
The more thieves and robbers.

~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

The more laws are posted
The more robbers and thieves there are

~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

When they try to fix things
by passing more laws,
they only increase the number of outlaws.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from Beatrice.com, 2004 ~
In the United States, the laws and regulations that cover high finance and big business are crafted in such a way as to ensure the elite will rob the people. What else should we expect when the corporations that the rules supposedly are meant to regulate, by and large, write the legislation itself?

It would be like a parent allowing their 7 year old son or daughter to write up the house rules and to determine what the punishment, if any, there will be for violating the rules. Do you think your 7 year old will create tough rules and harsh punishments?

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

One for Another

Trey Smith

Obviously, the Gadaffi and Saddam regimes were horrible human rights abusers. But the point is that one cannot celebrate a human rights success based merely on the invasion and overthrow of a bad regime; it is necessary to know what one has replaced them with. Ironically, those who are the loudest advocates for these wars and then prematurely celebrate the outcome (and themselves) bear significant responsibility for these subsequent abuses: by telling the world that the invasion was a success, it causes the aftermath — the most important part — to be neglected. There is nothing noble about invading and bombing a country into regime change if what one ushers in is mass instability along with tyranny and abuse by a different regime: typically one that is much more sympathetic to the invading regime-changers.
~ from The Human Rights “Success” in Libya by Glenn Greenwald ~
In his column, Greenwald discusses the spate of reports that the so-called liberated states of Iraq and Libya are engaging in violent repression of rights, torture and, in some cases, murder. These are the VERY SAME criteria that the US utilized as a reason to attack both countries. So, in essence, we have liberated each nation to go right back to committing the very same human rights abuses as before.

As Greenwald makes clear, human rights violations almost never are the "actual objective." Historically, the US has supported some of the most brutal despotic regimes as long as these tyrants don't screw up the machinations of our elites. If a vile dictator allows US corporations to have free rein, he can murder his countrymen at will and you won't hear as much as a peep from Washington.

However, if that same tyrant gets in the way our plans and schemes -- even just a tad -- all bets are off. If the tyrant refuses to be kowtowed by all the various forms of pressure the US can exert, then and ONLY then do we hear about the regime's woeful human rights record and how the US must now bomb the entire country to kingdom come to save them from destruction and to usher in a new era of freedom and democracy.

But our "saving" of the people comes at a strange price. Not only do we destroy much of the nation's infrastructure -- seriously hampering its ability to rebound economically -- but we install puppets who -- surprise, surprise -- tend to commit the very same sorts of atrocities that we ostensibly saved the people from in the first place!

In other words, after all is said and done, about all we genuinely have accomplished is to trade one abuser for another.

And that, my friends, is why the people in the "liberated" countries "love" us so much.

Chapter 11, Part 24 - Confucius

Tsze-lu got Tsze-kao appointed governor of Pi.

The Master said, "You are injuring a man's son."

Tsze-lu said, "There are, there, common people and officers; there are the altars of the spirits of the land and grain. Why must one read books before he can be considered to have learned?"

The Master said, "It is on this account that I hate your glib-tongued people."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Daily Tao - Mutual Benefit

What use is competition when the result is one rejoicing in another's loss?

Competition for mutual benefit is more desirable.

Nothing though beats cooperation as that is always inline with truth.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

Assertiveness and Receptivity I

Scott Bradley

In "A Heart Like a Meadow" (yesterday's post) I found myself faced with the prospect of advocating what would appear to be a one-sided view of the human response to being-in-the-world. Everything happens to a meadow; a meadow does nothing. Yet, the meadow is an event of wonderful fecundity. The meadow is Yin.

Yin and Yang are concepts which I have assiduously avoided for the simple reason that, within the literature of Chinese philosophy, they seem to have become things-in-themselves, actual forces at work in the cosmos; they have become entities in a purely speculative cosmology which I have no desire to adopt or promote. For the same reason, I have not given much time to their study; nor have I thought much about them. Yet I find myself confronted with the same kinds of issues from which the concepts of Yin and Yang arose. So, I am going to wade into this swamp knowing full well I will soon be out of my depth and swimming to I know not where.

Ego is Yang. Yang is assertiveness. Yang proclaims itself to be. Yang insists on itself as opposed to others. Yang must occupy space. Yang confronts the world because it is not the world and in that confrontation affirms itself.

Can an ego exercise some appearance of Yin? Of course. But it can never actually be it. The ego can only surrender or exercise receptivity for egoic purposes, the purposes of Yang.

Yang, it would seem, is the foundation of human self-assertion and the norm of human interaction with the world. Taoism, like every religious philosophy, assumes the problematical nature of this reality. That there is a problem, psychologically, sociologically and ecologically is a given of our experience. We need not endeavor to 'prove' it. Taoism's remedy for this problem is to suggest the way of Yin.

Yin is receptivity. Yin is acceptance. Yin is surrender. Yin is wu-wei. Yin is non-confrontational. It is the way of water, which follows the path of least resistance and gladly fills the lowest places which Yang disdains. It is the way of the valley, which receives and channels all the waters of the world.

The way of water is one of powerlessness. And yet this powerlessness is most powerful. Water transforms by virtue of its giving way. And Taoism understands all true transformation as similarly realized. And Taoism believes that such transformation actually takes place, both within individuals and in the societies in which those individuals dwell.

I subscribe to this way of Yin and in writing about it, exercise Yang. And of this, I will yang more in the next post.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

3W 69

'Nearer my tail to thee', the kitten remarked -
as with a final desperate leap she overreached herself
and fell head-over-heels into the pond.
~ A selection from Posthumous Pieces by Wei Wu Wei. Click here for more from this book. ~

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Undeserved

Trey Smith

The other day I was at the grocery store. I was talking with a gal about universal health care. Overhearing the conversation, one of the checkers said universal health care was a bad idea and not right for the good 'ol US of A. Her remark didn't surprise me at all because I already knew she was an unabashed conservative. In her eyes, America is falling behind in so many areas because of all the lazy poor people who want handouts.

After mulling over her usual arguments -- ones I've listened to countless times before -- I realized there really is a stark divide between those who have a conservative mindset versus those of us who view things much more expansively.

Conservatives are willing to sacrifice the deserved in order to ensure that the undeserved don't receive one penny they aren't entitled to.

Moderates are willing to sacrifice some of the deserved to ensure that most of the undeserved don't receive one penny they aren't entitled to.

Liberals are willing to sacrifice a few of the deserved to ensure that a significant portion of the undeserved don't receive one penny they aren't entitled to.

And then there are leftists like me. I'm not willing to sacrifice ANY of the deserved and if that means some of the undeserved receive benefits they aren't entitled to, then so be it.

There are scammers in all walks of life. Many people become rich preying on others. Why is it most people only castigate financially poor scam artists, while giving wealthy ones -- some of which are celebrities and/or important people -- a free pass?

I'm not suggesting that we should craft a system that allows people to cheat and lie without consequences. We have a court system for that. If the government determines that someone received something they shouldn't have, then they can work to get it back and/or punish the individual in some manner. But to deny people their basic needs to guard against the few who might take advantage of the situation is patently mean, callous and inhumane.